Out-of-province student tuition left unregulated in New Brunswick

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The provincial budget released on Tuesday leaves a gaping question for out-of-province and international students in New Brunswick.

The government announced that tuition increases for New Brunswick students will be limited to increases in inflation, however it does not cap the amount of tuition for students from outside of the province.

“We are […] concerned about the impact differential tuition for out-of-province students could have on enrolment and on this province’s future labour force.” says student Annie Sherry, chair of the New Brunswick Students’ Alliance.

Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia currently have a two-tiered tuition scheme for local and out-of-province Canadian students, all of which occupy three of the top four provinces when it comes to the highest tuition fees in the country.

While at first look Ontario appears to be have a base tuition rate for all domestic students, the provincial government has recently introduced the ‘Ontario Tuition Grant’ which provides a 30% rebate for students from that province if they choose to stay local.

Meanwhile Ontario maintains the highest average undergraduate tuition rates in the country, which are approximately 20% higher than the Canadian average, effectively creating two tiers of tuition for resident and nonresident students of Ontario

Quebec has had a true two-tiered structure for post-secondary fees that, until this past winter, consisted of two amounts. One for French nationals and Quebec residents at $2200/year and nearly triple that for all other students from out of province there to study.

In a province that has trouble retaining its young people and also one with a declining and ageing population increasing tuition for newcomers seems counter intuitive

This past spring Quebec announced that French nationals would now have to pay the out-of province rate for this academic year which are the second highest in Canada, behind Ontario.

Nova Scotia recently removed the cap on student fee increases for one year which the government claims gives the universities and colleges the opportunity to “readjust” tuition rates to reflect changes in costs.

Image courtesy of http://www.policyalternatives.ca
Image courtesy of http://www.policyalternatives.ca

The tuition cap for out-of-province and international students was lifted as well, and there are no plans to reintroduce it in the future. This leaves tuition for out-of-province students to be determined individually by each university as they see fit, placing no limit on increases and no maximums.

If New Brunswick colleges and universities choose to move forward with introducing higher fees for out of province students they would be the fourth province to do so.

When asked if UNB plans to raise tuition for out-of-province students, David Stonehouse, spokesperson for the university stated that, “it’s too early to say (as) tuition rates are approved by UNB’s Board of Governors, normally during approval of the university budget in the spring.”

In a province that has trouble retaining its young people and also one with a declining and ageing population increasing tuition for newcomers seems counter intuitive.

A province with a diverse population from across the country is more productive, agile and better connected to the rest of Canada, and the world. Leaving the possibility of higher costs for students ‘from away’ may have unintended consequences on growth, innovation and job creation.

Universities and colleges in New Brunswick will have to take a long and hard look at increasing tuition to out of province students who will be wary of unregulated increases during their time studying.

With incentives in Ontario and Quebec to keep domestic students in their home provinces, institutions in New Brunswick are already facing dwindling out-of-province enrollment figures as well as fewer in province students. The announcement in the budget from the provincial government has made the situation worse, setting universities and colleges in the awkward spot of having to decide between raising the tuition of the students they so badly need to attract or reducing the services they currently provide.